Woman arrested for stealing thousands from memorial fund

Woman arrested for stealing thousands from memorial fund

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office says thousands of dollars were stolen from a memorial fund for the grieving families of two men killed in a boat crash on Lake Coeur d’Alene last summer.

After a month long investigation, 36 year old Katie Rafter was arrest in the case.

That benefit held this past fall raised about $30,000.

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies say the woman they arrested pocketed almost half of the money.

Doug Honken is the father of Justin Honken, one of the three people killed in that boat crash. He says this is a “slap in the face” to three grieving families.

Last fall, several people approached the Honken family about doing a memorial rodeo in Justin Honken and Justin Luhr’s honor.

“Justin was the love of my wife’s and my life,” Doug Honken said.

One of those people was Katie Rafter. Honken says the Luhr family knew her, but the Honken family did not.

The event was a success, with businesses and individuals from all over the community donating time and money.

Rafter and another woman had access to the account that held about $30,000 meant for the families.

But when the families hadn’t seen the money about three months later, Doug Honken got involved.

“I wanted all the financial papers,” he said. “I wanted the breakdown. I wanted to know where stuff was, because my wife and I and our daughter were having really bad feelings. It was 90 days post and nobody had seen anything come out of this.”

Honken reported Rafter to authorities, and on Tuesday, she was arrested. Detectives believe she stole about $14,000 from the fund.

“She’s devastated everybody,” Honken said. “Taken away the faith. All those hundreds of people that donated their time, their money, their auction items, the community who came to honor these two young men, and she slapped them all in the face.”

The Honkens were going to use the money for a scholarship fund in Justin’s honor. Justin Luhr’s widow has young children to take care of.

“There were three great people that died that day that didn’t need to die,” Honken said. “Justin Luhr, Caitlin Breeze and our son Justin Honken, none of them deserved to die, but they were there to honor our kids that day and for Katie Rafter to go and do that, it’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking, it’s not right.”

KXLY interviewed Katie Rafter in 2012 when she and her sister collected donations for wildfire victims in central Washington. The Sheriff’s Office says it is aware of these past donations, but is not aware of any wrong-doing.